Valentin Fischer - Researcher & Presenter
Valentin is about to graduate with a Master's degree in Business and Economics from the University of Basel. Previously, Valentin was a Business Research Officer and Presenter for the Broadgate Financial Group and "On The Couch" online episodes. Currently, he serves as Finance Analyst for Asia Internship Programme Globals pre-seed accelerator ADEPTO. His responsibilities include vaulting business ideas and structuring contracts for potential acquisitions.
You’re originally from Switzerland and are in the process of completing your master’s degree. How did you end up in Thailand?
I had absolutely no international experience, which is why I decided to come to Thailand. I studied Business and Economics and I said to myself, before I finish my degree, I want some real experience in my field and in the world.
Sounds like you started with a completely blank slate! How did you choose Thailand over all the other places in the world?
It was an accident! I came to Thailand last year for holiday because of a last minute change of plans. I spent two weeks here and when I went back home I was very sad to be back in Switzerland, so I started to search for a way to return to Thailand.
How did you end up finding your current position with Asia Internship Programme?
I worked for Broadgate International, which Asia Internship Programme is affiliated with, when I was looking for an International Business internship. It was one of the few places that arranged internships in Thailand. The financial sector is not yet as developed as Hong Kong or Singapore, so business internships in Thailand can be hard to find. Asia Internship Programme offered what I was looking for and were very helpful.
You mentioned you managed to find, and were even offered, several different positions, but decided to work for Asia Internship Programme. What made you choose to do your internship through this organization over others?
Asia Internship Programme (AIP) was very responsive. I was always well informed and responded to within 48 hours. Other places would take weeks or I maybe wouldn’t hear back at all. I was impressed with AIP overall.
What advice would you give to someone from a Western country and mindset who was coming to join the workforce in Thailand?
I haven’t worked really closely with many Thai people in my current position, but I have still been able to learn quite a bit. Some things to keep in mind are that there are many Western educated Thai people; there is a big difference between the mindset of Thai people that have a Western education background and those with a traditional Thai education. It is easy for someone with a Western mindset to jump to thoughts if something goes differently or we don’t hear back from someone right away. It isn’t because they are lazy, it is often because of the language barrier. It may take them longer because they are nervous about phrasing something incorrectly and Thai people tend to be shy.
Also, another very important thing is that the hierarchy in Thai companies is much more strict. You have to know exactly who to report to. As an intern, it is hard to get them to give you responsibility. In other places your education can help you get higher positions, but in Thailand that doesn’t happen as often; seniority is very important. It seems to me that Thai people don’t speak up as much as other cultures. Many things are related to status, so people won’t say things against their supervisor or change their ways even if they maybe are unsatisfied. It can be hard to change their minds.
Would you recommend speaking up a little and asking for those additional responsibilities if you’re an intern?
Absolutely! If you think the company could be more efficient or have an idea, be sure to arrange a time to speak to your supervisor. It will be appreciated and that will help you become more involved if you’re having trouble.
What are you favorite things about living in Thailand?
I would have to say the weather and the food. The humidity gets to me a little, but since I’m from Switzerland I don’t really like the cold. I wish winter could be just like two or three weeks. Here in Thailand, you can walk around in flip flops any day and I love the fried shrimp! It doesn’t even need sides, just the shrimp is enough for me.
What is something you wish you had known about Bangkok before moving to the city?
That is very hard because I like to go to new places and be surprised, but something to be aware of is that it is very hot, very, very hot! Something else that I would love people to know though, is that it is really safe here. I was here during the last coup and if I hadn’t read the news, I wouldn’t have even known it was happening. There were some protests and things right when it happened, but after that you couldn’t even tell. People don’t seem to care too much about politics here which is very different, and it didn’t affect their way of life.